In marketing, being truly honest can take enormous courage. It can also be incredibly effective.
Where would Ivory Soap be if they had behaved like classic marketers back in 1891 and claimed they were “100% pure”? You could certainly imagine the sensible marketing director who would say, “Hold on there, you want the centerpiece of our purity claim to be a number that points out precisely how impure we are? Next!”
For those of us who are tasked with telling the stories of whichever brand is paying us that day, it is so wonderfully refreshing to be able to tell the unadulterated truth. Especially since it works.
If you were looking for a venture capital firm to invest a few million for you, wouldn’t you feel a load of trust for the guys honest enough to tell you about all the huge scores that they missed out on? If you want to hire a copywriter, doesn’t the guy who admits with shame that he’s written for criminals, charlatans and imbeciles sound like an intriguing place to start?
On a much bigger scale, Domino’s Pizza has launched a marketing effort that is as brave as anything I’ve ever seen. The Pizza Turnaround is not creatively all that special, but strategically it is a minor miracle: get an enormous brand to admit that their product was crap:
This kind of honesty can generate an enormous amount of publicity. Like this incredible skewering on the Colbert Report.
It can do something even more miraculous: make me want to try a Domino’s pizza for the first time in 15 years.